Bill would end military's use of live animals for medical training

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Thursday reintroduced a bill that calls for ultimately ending the military's use of live animals in combat medical training courses in the next five years.

The Battlefield Excellence through Superior Training (BEST) Practices Act would require the Defense Department to phase out the use of live animals in medical training -- a practice that has been widely eliminated from similar civilian programs.

ADVERTISEMENT

The legislation -- sponsored by Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Washington preps for Mueller report | Barr to hold Thursday presser | Lawmakers dive into AI ethics | FCC chair moves to block China Mobile | Dem bill targets 'digital divide' | Microsoft denies request for facial recognition tech Lawmakers, tech set for clash over AI Overnight Energy: Collins receives more donations from Texas oil, gas industry than from Maine residents | Interior chief left meetings off schedule | Omar controversy jeopardizes Ocasio-Cortez trip to coal mine MORE (D-Ore.) in the upper chamber and Reps. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Michael FitzpatrickMichael (Mike) G. FitzpatrickPelosi: Mexico should not worry about Trump House lawmakers ask for answers on cooked ISIS intel allegations The Republicans who nearly derailed the THUD bill MORE (R-Pa.) in the House -- was referred to the House Armed Services personnel subcommittee in the 113th Congress but didn’t receive a vote.

“It's clear that using live pigs and goats in this kind of training isn't necessary, and 98 percent of civilian trauma programs agree,” Johnson said in a statement.

"BEST is the best of all possible worlds -- it improves training, eliminates animal suffering, modernizes medical training and saves taxpayers money,” he added. 

The U.S. military uses more than 8,500 animals every year in its combat trauma training courses, according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Lawmakers contend that operating on an anesthetized or unconscious goat or pig doesn't properly prepare medical professionals for treating human traumas. They say studies show that simulators are better at training doctors for real-world situations.

“Killing live animals is unnecessary and counterproductive when better methods of training are already being used,” said Wyden.

“This bill makes sure our military medics are trained using the newest -- and best -- technology on the market so they know exactly what to do when it counts,” he added.